My first exposure to chaat was mom homemade 'Bhel puri'. In the 60's and 70's eating out was a novel experience and street food not something we indulged in, so mom learnt how to make it. Thanks to her awesome palate and some help from our Gujarati neighbors.
She would painstaking make the basic ingredients; fry the sev and puri, roast peanuts, prepare the dry bhel mix, make the tamarind-date chutney(boiling and reducing it so it would last a while) and so on. We knew how much effort when into these preps. It was so good, family and guests often requested her to make bhel puri when they visited.. having heard how tasty it was.
During my college days, chaat's like Bhel puri, Pani puri, Sev puri, Dahi batata puri and of course Ragda patties, Chole Bature, Dahi wada, etc. were quick meal options. Our favorite haunts being Linking Road opposite National College and Chowpatti(at Opera house).
My first exposure to Dahi papri chaat was at a fast food place in Calcutta near Brooke Bond house on Shakespeare Sarani. It was our favorite hangout for a quick snack and coffee. To cut a long story short.. Last month, our cousin in Tennessee served us papri chaat and pani puri. It had been a while since we ate both chaats. The girls loved it, so cousin packed up a bag of papri's and puffed puri's for us to bring home. Did not bring the chutney's.
Being lazy, I had found store brands for both chutneys, very similar in taste to mom's and the one I made from scratch in the many years we lived in NJ. The brands are important since these were found purely by trial and error and their long refrigerated shelf life. The Nirav coriander chutney and Deep tamarind-date chutney are must haves, both can be found in most Indian(desi) grocery stores around the US.
Chaat's are all about taste, assembly and preference. If you have the right products and ingredients putting them together is a breeze.
- a bag of Papri or kadak(hard) puri
- 1/4 tsp cumin powder
- salt and sugar to taste
- Deep tamarind-date chutney
- Nirav coriander chutney
- Red chilli powder
- finely chopped coriander leaves and thin sev to garnish(optional)
- Chaat masala(optional)
- one large red onion finely chopped
- 3-4 medium sized potatoes boiled/steamed and cut or broken down with fingers but not mashed (sprinkle some chaat masala or salt over and mix in for flavor)
- 1-2 cups Dahi(Yogurt) any brand or homemade
Preparation and Assembly
For Dahi - Measure required dahi into a bowl and whisk it smooth, you can add a little bit of water if it's too thick. Add a pinch of cumin powder; a pinch or two of powdered sugar; a pinch or two of salt; Blend well. Taste and add cumin powder, sugar or salt as desired. As I mentioned earlier, chaat is all about taste and preference, with practice comes perfection.
- Break some papri to cover the plate, Scatter spiced/salted potatoes and onions evenly over the papri
- Spoon blended dahi(yogurt) on top, so it covers the plate as shown
- Sprinkle some red chilli powder with your fingers(optional)
- Spoon coriander chutney as shown
- Spoon tamarind-date chutney as shown
- Garnish with thin sev and chopped coriander leaves
- Enjoy the delicious Dahi papri chaat.
Variation - Dahi batata puri
- Make a hole on the thinner side of the puffed puri, you have to be careful so as to not break it up the puri.
- Fill the puffed puri with a mix of potatoes, drained canned chick peas/chana or cooked mung sprouts (optional); chopped onions(optional)
- Place 6-10 filled puri's per plate
- Spoon blended dahi into each puri or over the top
- Top each filled puri with some sweet chutney and the spicy chutney
- Sprinkle some red chilli powder for spice
- Garnish with sev and chopped coriander
- Enjoy delicious Dahi batata puri.. you have to open your mouth wide and eat the whole puri in a single mouthful! :)
|Sev Puri - From my sister's kitchen|
Another variation - Sev batata puri
- The Sev puri is the thin and crunchy counterpart of the papri
- Place the puri's around the plate(don't make this if the puri's are thick, they need to be thin and crunchy, if you live in NJ you may get them as sev puri's in the store)
- Top with some potatoes and onion
- Spoon sweet and green chutney(both liquefied)
- Top generously with some sev and chopped coriander leaves
- Enjoy, you have to eat a puri with its toppings as a single mouthful
The above is my dysfunctional style of preparing delicious chaats, All you need to do is prep the dahi, boil potatoes and chop onions. If bhel mix is readily available, take required quantity in a bowl, add roasted peanuts, boiled potatoes, chopped onions, sweet chutney, and coriander chutney; Mix well, top with sev and enjoy yummy bhel puri anytime with a spoon or a crunchy puri. You can make it healthier by adding chopped raw mango, avocado, blackberries, blue berries, tangerine oranges, fresh spinach leaves, mung sprouts, firm ripe tomatoes whatever is available, in season, crunchy, tasty or sour.. :) Do comment if you enjoyed making and serving chaat in my dysfunctional style!